International women’s day is a perfect day to remember and celebrate the many contributions of women around the world. Can you believe it’s only hundred years ago that women won the right to vote in Britain? But it’s not only in the West that women have been fighting. All around the world women have been pushing hard to have their voices heard, their contributions recognized.
From Africa to Asia to America, a bit of history can take us a little back to the many ways women continue to champion causes that have brought us this far.
In 1929, 89 years ago, the Nigerian Igbo women wedged war against the warrant Chiefs appointed by the British, whom the women accused were restricting the role of women in the government. This protest is known as Aba Women’s riot. According to the British colonial records, the Aba women’s riot is known to be the most aptly strategically executed anti-colonial revolt organised by women to redress social , political and economic grievance. During this revolt, many warrant chiefs were forced to resign and as a result of this, women were appointed to serve on the Native courts.
This is not the only account of women standing up for themselves and their rights. There are several well documented facts of historic women who have led vigorous protests which resulted in the gradual positioning of women today.
Let us think of women like Yaa Asantewa of Ghana who fought hard against the British colonial rule when the men waivered. Think of Funmilayo Ransome Kuti of Nigeria. Then remember also, Qiu Jin of China who was executed after participating in a failed uprising against the Qing Dynasty, Queen Manduhai Khatun of Mongolia who defeated the Oirats. And recently, we have brave women such as; Corazon Aquino who is the revolutionary president of the Philippines, let us think of the women of now and of course our today’s women whose works are annually being recognised and recorded during the Divas of Colour International Women’s festival.
I feel extremely proud to have this event brought to you year in year out. It gives me a sense of fulfilment having to have the opportunity to present the works of these women to the world so that the works that they do – big or small do not go unnoticed. I do not take any of these women’s achievements for granted.
I see in every woman, my mother and in my mother I see every woman. I see my grandmother, my mother in law. I see my sisters, myself. Because every woman everywhere – whatever colour, whatever creed or religion, whatever career, status quo or background, have one thing in common, – to have the opportunity to influence the world around them. To provide a better life for her family whether or not she has a child of her own. To have her role as a nurturer be recognised, respected and valued.
Although we still face stiff challenges as women, we are not giving in all the same. However, we may not have to fight in the same way that women of the past did, but we are in no way sleeping away our rights. At Divas of Colour, we believe that if, we shine light on the achievements of women, we are able to inspire and encourage an army of high achieving younger women who will get to know that there is no limit to what they can achieve of aspire to be.
As time changes, our strategy must also change in making sure that the many milestones walked by women in the past do not take us back to the starting point when our ancestral women began the fight.
Together we can continue to press for the right progress.
Happy International Women’s day .
CEO; Divas of Colour International Women’s Forum.
We look forward to seeing you on the 24th and 25th of March as we celebrate the heroes of today in various sectors.